House Republicans plot repeal of Obama education regulations

House Republicans are looking to move legislation as early as next week that would repeal two Education Department regulations that the GOP says intrude on the authority of states to set education policy.

The Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education act, H.R. 2117, was placed on the Rules Committee agenda late last week, a signal that the committee will soon meet to write a rule for floor consideration of the bill.

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The legislation would reverse two Education Department rules from 2010, one of which sets out federal rules for how states decide whether to allow colleges and universities to operate within the state. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), the sponsor of the bill, said this could pose a problem for online schools — for example, by forcing them to win authorization from every state that has an enrolled, online student.

A second regulation sets a federal definition for "credit hour." Foxx argues that this definition is based on how many hours a student is in class, but ignores other ways students might be learning.

In both cases, Foxx argues that the 2010 rules infringe on the authority of states to establish their own guidelines, and could stifle innovations in education.

"At the end of the day, the unnecessary state authorization and credit hour regulations will reduce local control and create uncertainty in postsecondary education," she said in last year's markup of the bill. "Instead of over-regulating the nation’s higher education system, we should focus our efforts on simplifying federal involvement and streamlining regulatory burdens."

The Rules Committee set an amendment deadline for the bill of Monday, Feb. 27, a sign that the committee could approve a rule soon thereafter, which would be followed by floor consideration.